Well, Duh: Of Course, Exxon Knew About Climate Change

exxon knew about climate change

So Exxon knew about climate change. Since the late 1970s. What else is new? A short history of corporate lobbying, for death and profit.

jason-dias-anewdomain-amazon-kindleaNewDomain — Don’t be silly. Of course Exxon knew about climate change. And it’s known about it for a long time. It knew as early as 1981, according to The Guardian. The New Yorker goes further, saying Exxon knew about it as early as 1977. The Union of Concerned Scientists has even released an internal Exxon memo that shows just how long it’s been aware of climate change.

Cynical? Sure? And the media has ever reason to be.

We all know how this is done by now. Go grab a book called Thank You for Smoking. Or watch the movie. Either way, you’ve got a fictionalized account of the very real way lobbyists and and do change public and government opinion on key issues, on behalf of for-profit interests.

These things really happened.

exxon knew about climate change did exxon know about climate changeThe tobacco companies knew smoking caused cancer. They even created their own research institute — the Tobacco Industry Research Council — to troll the doctors trying to warn us about the dangers of smoking. The Wall Street Journal has called the effort the longest-running misinformation campaign in US business history 

The effort finally ended in 1999. It was no longer possible, you see, to argue against the preponderance of evidence. A few smokers might still claim there is doubt and there is a a sliver of that, as there always is in any scientific research. But for the purposes of any non-epistemologist member of the human race, what we have here is certainty.

And the Tobacco research council is far from the only for-profit bogus misinformation and lobby group out there. The Family Research Council, an arm of Focus on the Family, trolls sociology research the way the TIRC trolled tobacco research. And then there’s creationist Ken Hamm, who has founded the crazy bullshit Creation Museum. It portrays man living alongside dinosaurs in his own geology research journal. But really, it’s no journal. It only accepts papers that promote this anti-scientific nonsense.

Trolls, everywhere.

All these trolls know they’re wrong. They have to read the research to disseminate their anti-research research. And they all put forward these ideas for profit.

In some form or other, the practice is as age-old as prostitution. Ever since we learned how to lie, we’ve been lying to protect our financial interests ahead of our health and any general survival interests, too. Faith before reason. It’s sad but true.

So yes, your cynicism is justified. And you should extend that cynicism to some of the real-sounding sources.

For instance, Greenpeace provided many of the documents indicting the Family Research Council and the TIRC.  Clearly they have an axe to exxon3 (1)grind, too ,,, 

Why does anyone ever believe the climate change deniers?

The preponderance of evidence for climate change is pursuasive. So is the evidence supporting the existence of major, profite-driven climate-change cover-up campaigns and troll-run disinformation campaigns.

You can always find obdurate people around. They’re the ones with unshakable faith in conspiracy theories. Conspiracies like: We didn’t go to the Moon, 911 was an inside job, the internment camps never held Japanese-American citizens, the Holocaust never happened.

And then there’s the crazies. Well, you know the crazies.

But the psychopaths, they’re the most dangerous. Especially if they happen to be government officials.

Because it isn’t just the industry denying climate change or other scientific realities that could mess with profits. It’s our government officials, too. To get elected, they need dollars. They get those dollars from rich people, the same people who buy lobbyists.

These politicians might not be so crass as to take bribes.  And the definition of a bribe is so narrow these days, anyway. But it’s not a “bribe” to participate in a quid-pro-quo relationship with a company or industry consortium, you know. And, as Salon points out, the overall effect of such plutocracy is measurable.

In the US, term-limited officials don’t even need to take actual money to pass bills favorable to the one percent. When they’re out of office, they just turn around and take high-paid lobbyist jobs.

These jobs pay very, very decently.

This is why you don’t see a lot of elected officials getting nailed for corruption in such corporate fakery. They don’t need to be directly corrupt. With a little patience, those who aren’t already millionaires know they can become rich. All that’s required is a bit of prudent patience.

Exxon and all the others knew about climate change as early as the 1970s and 1980s, long before most American first got wind of it in the late 80s and through the 90s. Execs in charge chose profits over our lives, chose to kill us rather than risk the bottom line. And so they deluded us with false information and attempted to baffle us with bullshit. 

Is there any doubt? Well, maybe for a philosopher. 

But really, um, no.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

Cover image: PolluterWatch.com, All Rights Reserved; image one: IMDB.com, All Rights Reserved; image two of James Dobson: wikipedia.org, All Rights Reserved.

About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He's a senior columnist at aNewDomain.